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Highland Hospital Completes $3.3 Million Radiation Oncology Improvements

Hospital Becomes First in Rochester Area to Offer Specialized High Dose-Rate Prostate Brachytherapy, Which Dramatically Cuts Cancer Patients’ Treatment Times

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Highland Hospital Chief of Radiation Oncology Hong Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., with the Linac Linear Accelerator in one of the unit's treatment suites.

Highland Hospital has completed a 14-month, $3.3 million renovation of its Radiation Oncology unit including new technology investments to enhance care and bring additional treatment options to cancer patients in the Rochester area.

Highland’s Radiation Oncology unit, which delivers more than 30,000 treatments each year, has been reconfigured and completely refurbished. Relocation of its entrance, patient registration and treatment areas offers added convenience and comfort for patients, and a more efficient space for physicians and staff to deliver care.

Radiation therapy uses high-energy radiation to shrink tumors and kill cancer cells; new technology investments at Highland are enhancing care and expanding the unit’s treatment options. Highland recently added RapidArc™ Radiotherapy technology from Varian Medical Systems; the technology is much faster than conventional radiotherapy and reduces a patient’s treatment time by as much as 50 percent. Cancer patients often undergo daily radiation treatments for several weeks at a time and must lie completely still on a treatment table while radiation therapy is administered. Cutting a treatment session from 20 minutes to 10, for example, improves patient comfort and the quality of care delivered.

Another new technology at Highland is a “4D” CT scanner, which radiation oncologists use to monitor each patient’s unique breathing cycle and see how the patient’s tumor moves as he or she breathes. This enables radiation oncologists to more precisely define the radiation target and protect healthy tissue from radiation.

Highland recently became the first Radiation Oncology program in the greater Rochester area to offer high dose-rate prostate brachytherapy. Traditional prostate cancer treatments include repeated daily external radiation treatments and/or implantation of radioactive seeds in the prostate to kill cancer cells at the site. High dose-rate brachytherapy uses tiny, hollow catheters, which are temporarily inserted directly into the tumor to kill cancer cells. This approach can shorten a patient’s treatment schedule; for many cancer types, the entire brachytherapy treatment takes one to two days, rather than five to seven weeks for external beam radiation therapy.

Highland Hospital’s Radiation Oncology program is part of the Wilmot Cancer Institute; in addition to services at Highland, the program offers radiation oncology care at Unity Health’s Park Ridge Hospital in Greece and F.F. Thompson Hospital in Canandaigua.

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